I had my period once, and I was stuck in the toilet with no hygienic pad. There was no one in the house to run by the neighborhood store to buy me some pads …I always get myself in such situations!
Anyway, this got me to think and wonder what our fellow women did, waaayyyyyyyy back in time, when there was no such thing as a comfortably fit hygienic pad…
Did they stay in the house until the period is over? Then I wondered how did they perceive the period back then, and how do we perceive it now? Why is it something we are all ashamed to talk about? Why is it something we cover up and are discrete and secretive about? Why is it something we avoid saying directly? Women actually camouflage “period” by expressions like ‘I’m sick’ or ‘ijit tante rosa’, I can imagine some of you reading my blog now and thinking that’s a ‘bloody disgusting topic.’
Personally, I have never hidden my period, my friends and colleagues can confirm to you that they allllll know about it!
“How are you Aya?”, “ I’m fine, I just got my period today and I have a stomachache”, “Mmm ok Aya do I need to know that detail?” “Yes you asked how I am and I answered. I really don’t see why we should be ashamed of it! Why bother lying and finding covered ups…
Actually, Estelle Ramey said once “In man, the shedding of blood is always associated with injury, disease, or death. Only the female half of humanity was seen to have the magical ability to bleed profusely and still rise phoenix-like each month from the gore.”
There is this huge weight on women since probably Eve, to always present themselves as pure, clean, delicate and beautiful– the flow of menses (or blood) probably conflicts with this idea and the words of our society come back to haunt me again: “Shame on you Aya, there are men in the room you could have said you’re not feeling well that’s all, this shouldn’t be a public discussion, it’s dirty!!!”
In fact, menstrual shame was identified as a core patriarchal element that indoctrinates and perpetuates male dominance and female subordination. Before I dwell further in the subject, I would like to point out that I’m not a feminist, at least not this hardcore stereotype feminist. I am simply someone who defies the patriarchal view of women in our societies and our prescribed role.
So coming back to our subject, even in several religions, menstruation is a sign of impurity: Muslim women duringmenstruation can’t pray nor fast. Why is that I wonder? Can’t I be religious during that time if “god created me” with a menstrual cycle? How funny is that! I am not sure if Islam literally dictates this rule or if it is only an interpretation of an Islamic text– but in both cases that doesn’t make any sense… we are impure beings and we should be ashamed of our bodies and the way we were created!
Moreover, in some Christian denominations, including many authorities within the Eastern Orthodox Church advise women not to receive communion during their menstrual period… This is not only foreseen in monotheistic practices. In fact, when I was touring with my friend in Bali, on a two hour long road to a Buddhist temple, the driver asked us and informed that we’re not allowed to enter if one of us is menstruating. My friend was actually having her period but we liyed ofcourse, it’s really their problem if they perceive it as impurity!
However, in “hunter-gatherer cultures that do not use birth control, menstruation is quite a rare event and a woman’s menstrual status is loudly signaled, so that everyone in the locality knows that this is her ‘sacred’ or ‘special’ time . It meant fertility for the tribe, another person able to carry on the traditions and customs through childbirth. It meant fertility for the land, as the blood would nourish the Earth and help the crops grow. It meant, in some cultures, gained wisdom and insight. A menarche party is throw then as a celebration of all things bloody and menstrual, feminine and powerful.”
This leads me to the second part of my article, which is to STOP seeing menstruation as a curse or disability, it actually has a beautiful powerful profound meaning, and it’s worth knowing it and feeling it and embracing our bodies for it. Let us remove once and for all the negative cultural construction of female body and start showing deep appreciation of being female.
Allow me to help you relearn ancient feminine wisdom.
We all know that menstruating is a sign of fertility and reproduction, it’s a miraculous cycle that is sacred to womanhood only! So during that time, celebrate the wonders of what your body does.
“When women reclaim menstruation and birth as our sacred territory, we recover our connection to nature, to the Earth and to our own life-giving power and authority.” “The menstrual power is one of the most powerful energies in the universe.”
“Menstruating women have been honored throughout the world. Menstruating women’s dreams are consulted as important oracles in Native American cultures. A menstruating woman is considered to be at the height of her power and during her Red Time becoming a true transmitter of the life force able to act and respond with power and wisdom.”
So let’s educate young girls about menstruation from now on as a reason to celebrate. The link below is a beautiful storytelling you can print out and read it to your daughter some day, and make sure to do it even before her menstruating: http://www.ashtreepublishing.com/Book_Moon_Days_Moon_Goddess.htm
Or you could offer her a really useful book called: “105 Ways to Celebrate Menstruation”, you will do her a big favor.
And next time you see those red stains, let it remind you of the power of life inside you and smile instead of cursing it. And if someone approaches you and asks you why are you all smiley and happy today, simply reply “I’m menstruating!”! I’m sure that this will create some controversial reaction! 🙂